Alcovy High School’s Taylor Stevens and Newton High School’s Ja’Briel Anderson recently received statewide honors when they were selected for the 2021 Georgia All State Band.
Stevens, a senior at Alcovy, plays the euphonium and has also served as drum major of the school’s marching band. Anderson is a sophomore and plays the tuba for the Newton Sound Factory.
According to Alcovy High School band director Brian Coates, this marks the first time in the school’s 14-year history that a student from Alcovy has earned All-State Band accolades.
“Taylor was not only chosen but also ranked as the No. 3 baritone in the state among 11th- and 12th-grade students,” said Coates. “This was an extremely rigorous process including two separate rounds of auditions and only a handful of students were selected for each category.”
Newton High School band director Jason Smith praised his student for also earning All-State recognition.
“Ja'Briel is an exceptional musician who works hard to gain the success he enjoys,” said Smith. “He puts in the time to perfect his craft and I'm excited to see his diligence and work ethic is paying off.”
Stevens, who has been in band for seven years, since her middle school days at Indian Creek, said she knew from a young age that she wanted to learn to play a musical instrument.
“Since I was little I’ve always had a passion for music and I just felt that band was an amazing way to express myself and find out more about myself as I developed over the years,” she said.
Anderson joined band in middle school as well. He said his interest was actually sparked in elementary school though.
“When I got to fifth grade music class, we were given recorders to play and that’s when I started liking music a lot more,” he said. “I knew I wanted to try out for middle school band at Liberty.”
Both said they were extremely excited and honored to learn they had been chosen for All-State Band.
“I was asleep and got an email from my band director stating in all caps, ‘Taylor you made All-State,’” Stevens said. “I just immediately started tearing up because it’s something I’ve just worked so hard for and being that it’s my last year, this was my last shot and I finally succeeded in what I pursued for a long time.”
Anderson said he was in a Zoom class when he got the news.
“My band director said one person made it and I was so nervous,” he said. “Then he said it was me and I was so excited and so proud of myself.”
Although due to COVID-19, there will be no live performances for All-State Band this year, both students said they were very proud to have been selected and each will continue to pursue their musical paths.
Anderson will continue to perform in the Newton Sound Factory while Taylor is headed to the University of Alabama’s School of Music.
“Congratulations to both Taylor and Ja’Briel,” said Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent of the Newton County School System.
“I am so very proud of both of them for this fantastic accomplishment. Both the Alcovy and Newton band programs are producing stellar musicians and as Taylor and Ja’Briel have shown, our middle school programs are helping provide the foundation for that future success. What a job well-done.”